Monday, 24 September 2018

in order to form a more perfect album

Via Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals, we discover the quite brilliant civics project from WNYC (the call-sign of New York’s Public Radio station) studios that curates twenty-seven songs that do a pretty spot-on job of representing each of the amendments to the long-lived and fungible constitution of the United States of America.
Yes—there are songs even about the more obscure ones (perhaps outside of the manumission and franchise clauses and the gun one, most of them are pretty obscure for most) like the Seventeenth Amendment, ratified in 1903 which provides for the direct election of senators. This working document is testament to a law of the land that can withstand the whims of the moment, yet admit growth and change and this anthology has lessons and footnote that accompany the score and make the objectives and historical milieu and legacy clear and accessible. Many talented artists have lent their voices to this collection, which is a playlist that I certainly would not object to having in my regular circulation.


kinoplex: the dazzling interiors of Berlin’s Delphi Lux cinema

signal corps: over one hundred thousand homing pigeons served in World War I—a tradition dating back to the campaigns of Julius Caesar, via Everlasting Blört

behind the curtains: Mister Rogers dedicated programming to helping children distinguish between fact and fantasy, calling out the television industry for manipulative practises—via Kottke’s Quick Links

music concrète: pianist Glenn Gould to be resurrected as a hologram and put on tour we did not know that this was a thing

monopsony: participants in the gig-economy have seen average monthly-earning halved in the past five years

telepresence: in order to fight social isolation, Ory Laboratories has opened a café staffed by robotic waiters operated remotely by people with disabilities that would otherwise physically impinge on their chance to interact and hold a job

my word is my bond: an artificial intelligence application that will analyse and profile any Twitter handle—via Motherboard and Digg

penumbra of mainstream legitimacy

It’s during those times when there’s not an obvious best choice that having the courage and the insight to take a stand really become the measure of a person, as one thinker, journalist and activist is committing to by coming to terms with the fact that discourse cannot always trump theatrics in the politics of the present. The forces of regression, masterful in their ability to manipulate and enlist, exploit the norms that are the hallmarks of a free and liberal society by forcing one to either concede a loss on principles—to refute the value of what’s in our quiver—empathy for the other and open-mindedness—or to dignify fascism and xenophobia with a response and elevate that outlook as something valid and equal.
Bending the true tools of identification and compassion to the form of a public debate is of course the stuff of sophistry, since true change happens at the margins and far from the madding crowd when one’s afforded a moment of reflection—again, the sort of meditation of tough choices. Watching the establishment agonise over such decisions (being drawn into the position to do so publicly) has become some sort of pastime for the right-wing, a jeering bit of muscle-memory common to all bad-faith, low-stakes arguments. Those stakes are deflated—at least for the interlocutor who lacks standing and is a dishonest advocate—because the rhetorical tactic invoked, invariably it seems and still with enough appeal to marshal a following, is a deflection along the lines of the justification-suppression model of prejudice, whereby bigots try to resolve their own dissonance with repressed chauvinism and desire to maintain a self-image that’s above it and violently avoid having to face that internal conflict by defending not their own catchment of stereotypes but the rights of others to hold and express those same views or worse—abstracting the conversation away from the context and subtext and yoking it to arguments governing free speech and censorship, often not in question but ever in the quiver of despots.

atlas der abgelegenen inseln

We are enjoying Things Magazine’s series of appreciations for Judith Schalansky’s award-winning Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will.
These are pretty remote, far-flung places and I think to a degree ought to remain inaccessible or at least more of a challenge than we’re accustomed to (distant in every sense and although mostly out of range and out of mind, all have unique stories and qualities that tie them to the known world) but one should have aspirations and for now some vicarious adventures are on order. We were surprised, however, of the number of the places mentioned on the atlas that we’d visited (though perhaps not in the strictly geographical sense) already by dint of blogging: Campbell Island, Easter Island, Tristan da Cunha and Saint Helena to recall a few. Explore more at the link up top which expands on the fantasy travelogue.